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Lingering hangover

Jets' Byfuglien hasn't been charged, case still up in air

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Dustin Byfuglien is a big part of the picture for the Winnipeg Jets and they won't be trading him despite some of the talk orbiting around the team right now.

 

A league source told the Free Press this week the Jets are not interested in offers for Byfuglien and he's fully expected to be in Winnipeg when main camp begins a week from today.

Despite the bad press surrounding the talented defenceman there's absolutely no impetus for the club to make a deal from a position of weakness.

The Jets, one might need to understand, haven't lost a game in 15 years and have a groundswell of positive vibes on their side right now. They can afford to absorb some negativity.

Byfuglien, who has a Stanley Cup on his resume and scored 20 goals for the Atlanta Thrashers last season, was arrested Aug. 31 for allegedly boating while under the influence, but a week later no charges have been laid.

The Hennepin County district attorney has yet to comment on the subject and the Jets are also not talking.

As of Friday, a spokesman for Hennepin County confirmed no decision has been made while waiting on the DA to review the case file.

But the rest of the hockey world is chatting and bits and pieces of the circumstances surrounding Byfuglien's arrest are being discussed by players and executives in the NHL.

It remains to be seen if Byfuglien made a small error in judgment he will pay for in terms of notoriety, or whether he's broken the law and will have to deal with all that comes with such an act in the state of Minnesota.

There's little news being released by public officials at the moment but here's some information we've collected from numerous league sources. None of it should be taken as fact at this time but nothing printed below comes from a single source, with each item repeated by multiple sources.

-- Byfuglien was stopped by police on Lake Minnetonka while piloting his fishing boat and asked to take a breathalyzer.

-- Byfuglien reportedly had just finished eating dinner at a dockside restaurant with his girlfriend, a business associate and his wife.

-- Byfuglien is said to have had two or three glasses of wine during dinner.

-- Byfuglien was not driving erratically but stopped as part of a checkstop.

-- Byfuglien was then taken into custody, around 11 p.m., and released around 2 a.m.

The Jets and Byfuglien have been working with lawyers to prepare for the worst but are reportedly hopeful for a quick and painless resolution. Having no charges laid would be considered the optimal outcome.

"There's a market for him," said an NHL executive. "He's a commodity. But this situation he's in, it's not a positive, but in relative terms it's not viewed by NHL standards as a damning negative. They don't even know if he's going to get charged. He's got no past criminal record, never even been arrested. They could trade him but they won't. Why would they?"

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca

more nhl coverage on c4-5

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 10, 2011 C1

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About Gary Lawless

Gary Lawless is the Free Press sports columnist and co-host of the Hustler and Lawless show on TSN 1290 Winnipeg and www.winnipegfreepress.com
Lawless began covering sports as a rookie reporter at The Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay after graduating from journalism school at Durham College in Ontario.
After a Grey Cup winning stint with the Toronto Argonauts in the communications department, Lawless returned to Thunder Bay as sports editor.
In 1999 he joined the Free Press and after working on the night sports desk moved back into the field where he covered pro hockey, baseball and football beats prior to being named columnist.

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